Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – 20

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Gin and milk?  I hope the milk was for Tokimune….

Argevollen has pretty much danced to its own beat right from the beginning, taking its time in telling its story and following a path that was quite logical while not usually being predictable.  So the fact that this episode went in a somewhat surprising direction isn’t in itself surprising, though there was definitely an odd sort of feel to it.  It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why, but it left me strangely detached.  It’s the second episode in a row where I wasn’t quite sure how the series wanted me to interpret what I saw, but for me there wasn’t as much of an emotional connection this time around.

We’ve seen Argevollen be quite deliberate in terms of plot development, but this ep was definitely a major reversal of style.  It wasn’t so much that a lot happened on-screen, but off it – we had almost a two-month timeskip, in fact.  Samonji has left Unit Eight without so much as a farewell drink, taking over Reika’s seat in the U-link cockpit, commanding the unmanned Perphevollen units.  His friendship with Izumi seems to have collapsed from the weight of this seeming betrayal.  And his old unit is now at the rear-guard, with their biggest enemy being boredom.

I’m certainly not surprised to see an episode focused on drinking in bars, mech maintenance and soldiers’ self-reflection – that’s as Argevollen as it gets.  But it seems slightly off to me that this massive change simply happened – it’s a pretty damn huge deal as far as both plot and character goes.  As Samonji’s unit (now under Suzushiro’s command) battles cabin fever, Samonji’s Perphevollen units have changed the fortunes of the warm with Arandas seemingly winning back large chunks of real estate from Ingelmia.  That’s not to say all is well – there’s still clear division within both sides’ command structure about how to wage this war, and indeed whether to wage it at all.

Meanwhile, Suguro-san has turned over maintenance of Argevollen to Jamie and the unit’s technicians, along with full access (theoretically) to its manuals.  Superficially this seems like a de facto statement that Arge is yesterday’s news, no longer Kybernes’ priority – though he does specify that he needs Jamie to keep feeding him data.  Why?  Because there’s a “noise” in that data – and Suguru suggests that it could be this noise which has kept Tokimune from succumbing to NR Syndrome.  I have my own thoughts about what that might be (and they’d surprise no one who’s seen Evangelion) but in the larger sense, I think this is a misdirection by Suguro – my gut feeling is that Argevollen is still the crucial element in Vitriveld’s plans, albeit for reasons that haven’t been made 100% clear.

In theory things seem pretty straightforward – Samonji has found a way to sacrifice himself to save Tokimune (and Suzushiro) and Argevollen is now irrelevant enough that Tokimune might not even need to pilot it any longer.  But this entire episode feels like a feint to me, a detour on the way to where the story is really headed.  Ingelmia is planning their counterattack, most likely with their own unamnned U-link system (and with Richthofen involved, which will likely draw Tokimune back into battle himself).  And Jamie now knows (to a small degree) what Tokimune endures in piloting Argevollen, which is all the more reason why she should understand why he shouldn’t be piloting it at all.  It still feels as if chaos is going to be unleashed in its full fury before long, with potentially tragic results.

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  1. R

    That short "infomercial" scene about the Perphevollens kinda reminded me of the Discovery Channel show Future Weapons where the host gleefully presents hypes up"the latest in military weapons (not surprisingly, mostly American-made weapons)". It's really creepy and unsettling when you here the announcer cheerful emphasize the ability of these weapons to quickly annihilate the enemies as if they are not fellow human beings.

    my gut feeling is that Argevollen is still the crucial element in Vitriveld's plans, albeit for reasons that haven't been made 100% clear.

    I'm kinda worried that they only have four eps left, but this particular plot point was mentioned only twice or thrice before without really giving details. I hope that this isn't a rush twist just to have some big reveal in the end.

  2. N

    "But it seems slightly off to me that this massive change simply happened – it's a pretty damn huge deal as far as both plot and character goes."

    I actually like the fact that it just happens as it is how it felt to the characters as well. I don't dislike dramatic farewells, but it is a refreshing change to have a more realistic change like this (as in real life, big things don't happen dramatically, but just suddenly and you are left feeling something is off)

  3. m

    I really liked this ep, it was a surprise for sure, but the time jump seemed to be more of skipping over pointless time of Samonji slowly taking back territory or unit 8 slowly building up to having that bar scene discussion (or avoidance of one) about his absence. I agree with Nayrael that his quiet departure from the unit feels a whole lot more realistic and in character for Samonji. I also don't mind the "protection" angle of Arge's system. It hasn't really been discussed, but bc of how little anyone knew of Arge this whole time, it doesn't feel all that forced. I also worry about how it'll wrap everything up in just 4 eps, but I think Argevollen has earned the benefit of the doubt, and at least some level of expectations. I find I'm not at all annoyed about the whole Jamie/Tokimune relationship which is way different than I felt early in the series. It has more of a natural feel now, and one that feels as realistic as much in the series has. I think this ep served to solidify the notion that Cayenne does care about his soldiers, even if that isn't his main motivation, as he does seem to have a dislike of the three men trying to end the war (which reeks of personal gain as well). And they did say that Arge was meant for him at one point, which does make me think he was planning on using it himself knowing the risks. I think he might be more of a bit of the "twisted logic" villain who thinks he's doing the right thing and is willing to make any sacrifice for what he believes is right. Which still makes him a bastard, but far less of a cartoonish one at least.

    Not sure what your theory is, but I'm interested to find out as the upcoming eps air. I'm not sure if it's tied into Tokimune "smelling" his sister while piloting Argevollen, or if it's actually due to Jamie being the other half of starting Arge up. It might turn out to be something else entirely, but it does give off a very strong EVA vibe, even down to the humanoid appearance of Arge.

  4. As I said, if you've seen NGE you have a pretty good idea which way I'm leaning…

    For whatever reason, this ep just left me very flat – obviously a personal reaction not everyone shared. But as far as Tokimune and Jamie goes yeah, I'm fine with that – they've developed quite naturally and their interactions seem very unforced and believable to me.

  5. R

    I think what Enzo is looking for are some of more important bits on Samonji's move to become the sole operator of the Perphevollen squad (it isn't clear to me if he is indeed the sole commander using the tech)., such as his insights in piloting that thing. It doesn't need to be dramatic (in fact, I actually also liked how they handled this ep), but it would help if they give the audience a few more insights on the guy.

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